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The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation’s Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS), in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau Of Special Education’s Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) and Pennsylvania State University’s College of Education and College of Health and Human Development, in conjunction with Penn State Conferences and Institutes, hosts the Summer Academy for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired at Penn State’s University Park campus. The 2019 program runs from Saturday, July 13 through Friday, July 26.

Summer Academy is a two-week, intensive program focused on enhancing independence skills for students transitioning to post-secondary education. It is available at no cost to eligible students currently enrolled in 9th, 10th, 11th or 12th grade and who anticipate attending a two- or four-year college or technical/trade school after graduation.

The academy’s primary focus includes: daily living activities; career awareness; low vision rehabilitation and access technology, travel, social, self-advocacy and networking skills enhancement. All students attending the academy reside at Penn State University in a dormitory. There the students share rooms with other students, eat meals in a campus dining hall and immerse themselves in other activities reflective of college life. The program also offers a STEM weekend, in partnership with PSU, Science U and the Materials Research Science & Engineering Center.

Summer Academy Program Content includes:

  • Access Technology - seek information and complete college level work by accessing university Learning Management Systems, library databases, Daisy Readers and Digital Books, as well as iOS accessibility and optical character recognition, and by using assistive technology while attending class.
  • Vision Rehabilitation Therapy - develop and enhance independent daily living skills, such as shopping, food preparation, labeling, cleaning, laundry, financial management and self-care.
  • Orientation and Mobility Instruction - enhance necessary independent travel skills on and off campus using canes, adaptive mobility equipment, public transportation and GPS devices.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation - assist in the transition to post-secondary education through career interest assessments and workshops held by Penn State Career Services.
  • Self-Advocacy and Networking - develop social, self-advocacy, networking and team building skills though activities that focus on trust, communication and support in order to succeed at a college or technical school and in the workforce.
  • Low-Vision Rehabilitation - address the functional vision of individuals with low vision. Students who have some remaining vision will have the opportunity to explore a variety of low vision rehabilitation options for maximizing functional vision.
  • STEM Weekend - experience the applications of science, technology engineering and math in the real world through hands-on activities, and learn about STEM career paths.
  • The Summer Academy for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired has received national recognition as an emerging best practice in Transition Services by the U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration.

To apply for Summer Academy:
To apply for a Resident Assistant position for Summer Academy:

About Summer Academy video